Film Brief: Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Hunt for the Wilderpeople reminded me a skosh of Moonrise Kingdom.  It didn’t have the Wes Anderson flair, or anything close to it per se, but it had its own flair, and a spirit one could recognize in an Anderson adventure.

Normally a 100% Tomatoes score + a trailer that did nothing for me + no legs = I’ll skip it.  But the complete dearth of films out there forced the issue, and I was pleasantly surprised.  Nothing groundbreaking here, but a couple non-pat choices help out this entertaining diversion.  Note that the trailer I am including below is not the version I referred to prior.  7/10

Film Brief: Swiss Army Man

Stephanie Zacharek, Time:

…essentially the movie is really just two guys talking in the wilderness for 90 minutes

And that’s the problem with Swiss Army Man.  I disagree with the 90 minutes part of that statement, but it’s certainly the case that the filmmakers too quickly ran out of ideas.  Again, I know not everything can be Being John Malkovich as far as inventing new ideas, but still, you have to continue on with your movie.  I can think of a number of interesting ways in which Swiss Army Man might have evolved, but the “Daniels” were content to stop short.

Even so, there’s enough fun novelty for a marginal thumbs-up.  6/10

Comparison Notes: the TV series The Greatest American Hero.  It’s the 4th of July, after all.

Note on the trailer: it gives away too much; watch at your own risk.

Winding Refn’s The Neon Demon

Maybe think of The Neon Demon as a models’ Black Swan crossed with Maps to the Stars.  Or not.  The Times called it “ridiculous and puerile.”  The only thing ridiculous there is calling it “puerile” — clearly, The Neon Demon went over that reviewer’s head.  One who probably didn’t think The Shallows was ridiculous.

The Neon Demon - text blockScott Tobias of NPR, on the other hand, understands what the director of Drive was doing.  His review, titled “Refn’s ‘The Neon Demon’ Paints Hollywood In Garish, Gorgeous, Gory Colors”:

In the shimmering Tinseltown gothic of Nicolas Winding Refn’s The Neon Demon, beauty is a commodity both precious and volatile, subject to runway trends and the ravages of age, with just a blemish, a wrinkle, or a sliver of fat separating today’s “It Girl” from tomorrow’s bus back to Indiana.

…the mesmeric pull of The Neon Demon cannot be denied. It lures you in for the kill.

There were a couple big plot problems I had with this movie, which is too bad.  Luckily they happen, unusually enough for plot problems, in the first half of the film.  They’re a little frustrating because they could be easily re-written to lift The Neon Demon to one of the best of the year.  But the visual pull of this film is undeniable.  7/10

Comparison Notes (each recommended and better): Sleeping Beauty, Electrick Children, Mulholland Drive

Note: Though the Times slammed The Neon Demon as “puerile,” they contradicted themselves by featuring an “Anatomy of a Scene,” which I include below along with the trailer.

The Neon Demon - Anatomy of a Scene